China may test for radiation east of Japan

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 May, 2011, 12:00am


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China may send vessels to conduct tests on radiation levels in waters east of Japan, officials from the State Oceanic Administration said.

Li Xiaoming, an administration official in charge of marine environment protection, said that the radiation leak from Japan's Fukushima No 1 nuclear plant triggered by a massive earthquake on March 11 will have a long-term impact on the western Pacific.

'The amount of radiation leaked from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 was only a quarter of the level of Japan's crisis. Yet radiation can still be detected 20 years after that disaster,' Li said. China had not found excessive radiation levels in its sea and fishery products, but vigilant monitoring was needed.

'It is possible that radioactive substances may enter China's seas, especially through fish and food in international waters. The administration is planning an inspection and considering sending vessels to the waters east of Japan to monitor the situation,' Li said.

Maritime officials and experts on Wednesday called for more precautions regarding ocean disasters in the wake of Japan's nuclear crisis.

Gaps in China's ocean disaster control and prevention system - such as a lack of labs to test for radiation - have emerged since the Japanese crisis began, Dou Yueming, an official from the administration's North China Sea Branch, said.

While dozens of mainland research institutions have radiation testing labs, many have been abandoned because they were not being used, Dou said.

The administration has discussed with the Japanese ambassador to China, Uichiro Niwa, the idea of sending vessels to conduct tests and is awaiting a reply, Li said. In a meeting with Niwa on Monday, administration director Liu Cigui proposed China and Japan work together to test for radiation in the western and north Pacific. Liu called on Japan to be aware of the impact the radiation leak could have on its neighbours, and to provide timely and accurate information on the situation, a statement posted on the administration's website said.